Science Cannot Serve Two Masters

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A fishing dragger hauls in a net full of Atlantic cod, yellowtail flounder and American lobster off the coast of New England. Greenpeace says Ray Hilborn, a prominent fisheries scientist known for challenging studies that show declines in fish populations, failed to fully disclose industry funding on some of his scientific papers. Jeff Rotman/Getty Images

Go to the dictionary, or notes from a science course you might have taken, to be reminded of the definition of how this body of knowledge operates, and the importance of avoiding bias is evident. When it relates to the survival or collapse of species, avoiding bias seems even more important than the definition implies. Science serves the interest of objective, verifiable truth; not economic or political interests (thanks to National Public Radio, USA):

Fisheries Scientist Under Fire For Undisclosed Seafood Industry Funding

A prominent and outspoken fisheries scientist at the University of Washington is under attack from Greenpeace for not disclosing industry funding in several scientific papers stretching back to 2006.

Greenpeace calls Ray Hilborn, a professor at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, a “denier of overfishing,” and says he has received at least $3.56 million in funding from dozens of fishing and seafood industry groups over a 12-year period. Greenpeace claims that on several occasions, Hilborn failed to disclose those affiliations in published scientific papers.

“This is about a person who is the most vocal critic of marine conservation efforts. And it turns out that he has received millions of dollars from industry and failed to consistently disclose those conflicts of interest appropriately,” says John Hocevar, Greenpeace campaign director.

Hilborn defends his work in a response he made public Wednesday night. He says he’s been in conversations with officials at the University of Washington, where he works, and has alerted an editor at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where he has published several papers, that he is being scrutinized by the environmental group.

Greenpeace obtained information about Hilborn’s research-funding sources through a Washington state public records request to the university. It’s the latest example of food activists using FOIA and other records requests to obtain information that will embarrass scientists seen as friendly to industry…

Read the whole story here.

One thought on “Science Cannot Serve Two Masters

  1. Please check out http://fishfeel.org, they suffer too along with countless “by-catch” marine life like sea turtles, rays, skates, dolphins, sharks, etc. The commercial fishing industry is an ugly business, no different than factory farming. The only way to save the oceans and rebound fish & sea life populations is to refrain from eating them.

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